Reading Time: 3 minutes

If you want to be successful in any endeavor, you should study successful people and do what they have done. It makes sense, right? Success comes at a price. You have to pay that price. So find someone who has done it and do what they did.

Unfortunately, we tend to look at others and make two faulty assumptions:

  1. They’re successful.
  2. They’re successful because of the tools they have.

There’s an element of truth to each of those ideas, which is why we can become obsessed with chasing after newer, greater tools in order to achieve newer, greater results. It’s a pursuit that can leave us frustrated with our current situation and never able to step up and excel at what we do.


Go with What You Know

A novice blogger wanted to put together an ebook for her audience. After some research, she learned that an experienced blogger made his ebooks using Keynote, so she started learning Keynote to work on hers.

After expressing her frustration at her slow progress in a forum, another blogger steered her towards using Pages, a tool she was already familiar with. She was elated to realize that she didn’t need to learn a new tool.

And that was the whole reason the experienced blogger had chosen Keynote! He was an experienced public speaker who already knew Keynote. By choosing a tool he was familiar with, he didn’t need to learn a new app just to put together a PDF.

Use What You Have

An artist I know was going to start doing freelance illustrations. He decided he “needed” to get an expensive graphics tablet, the industry standard equipment for this kind of work. “It’s what everyone is using.”

Before making the purchase, which would have put his fledgling business into debt, he spoke with an established illustrator. The established illustrator shook his head and told him to buy a $10 app to use with the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil he already had.

A new tool incurs several costs. Not only is there the financial cost of the tool (which is often all we consider), there’s the time it takes to learn the tool and the opportunity cost of what you could have been doing with that time and money if you’d used your existing tools.

You know the tools you currently use. You may not know everything they do, but you know them better than new tools.

Stop Looking for Magic Feathers

There will always be newer and better tools than what you currently have. Or at least different tools. Shiny, new, exciting tools that will solve all your problems. And present you with a whole new set of problems you’re not experiencing now.

If you want to do something new, do something new. If you want to buy a new tool, buy a new tool. But don’t tie the two together. The truth is, you can do more than you are with the tools you already have.

The established practices in an industry develop over time. Eventually, someone tries a new tool—often, because it’s what they already have—and find that they can get the same or better results with less effort and expense.

When you encounter an obstacle, figure out the fastest way around it with what you have. If your solution really does involve gearing up and getting a new tool, the costs of getting the new tool need to be weighed against the cost of making do with what you have.

Will the new tool let you do work that you honestly couldn’t do before? Or let you do it faster? What’s your ROI? Buying a new tool is a form of optimization. There’s a cost. What’s the benefit?

Most of all, don’t predicate your success on something external. It’s not the tool that’s going to achieve great results. It’s just a tool.

Don’t chase after the latest shiny tool. Distraction. Excuses. Procrastination. If only…, if only…, if only….

You’re placing the key to your success on something external. The key to your success is something internal.

Question: What tool are you trying to justify getting? How could you get by without it? Share your thoughts in the comments, on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.